Going from one country to the other on the road has always fascinated me. Crossing a border sometimes is like shifting to a different world, and doing it in a slow and gradual way makes it an unforgettable adventure.
One of the most amazing experiences I had was crossing the border from Malawi to Mozambique, specifically from Chiponde to Mandiba. We arrived there on a pick-up and before even stopping we got assaulted by about fifty people offering us their border-crossing service. Once done with the bureaucratic formalities, utterly confused and overwhelmed, we randomly picked two of them and got on their… bikes!
Here the no man’s land is several kilometre long and the road is a jumpy stretch of red soil which our biking heroes face puffing and sweating. During the way we had some talk with them, but mostly we were overwhelmed by this unique trip which we will remember as one of the most remarkable events of our journey.
Some other times it was the nature itself to make the crossing from one country to another something special, as from Chile to Bolivia. Once we left the customs in San Pedro de Atacama we left on a jeep for the Salar tour and in no time we arrived at 3600 metres, on an Andean plateau which allowed us a breathtaking view.
Here, surrounded by snowy peaks, we found just an old truck and a small building filled with bored Bolivian soldiers. No toilets, barriers, black currencies market… nothing. Breathing and walking was difficult, the wind was sharp. But the landscape was just amazing. But had yet to enter it, but Bolivia had already our hearts.
Usually neighbouring countries are somehow similar to each other, but in a few cases crossing the border is like moving from day to nighttime. For example, if you drive from the United States to Mexico.
No matter if you are headed for Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez or another place, the song is always the same. You leave the car in a parking lot and continue over a long bridge for another world. Once in Mexico no one asks you for papers or passport, you are free to disappear just as in the movies.
But when you get back, the situation is completely different, with the typical US inquisition loaded with questions and suspects. I never felt a border being such a dividing wall, an imaginary line you can almost feel it, so much different are the two realities it separates. The american skyscrapers on one side, the bullet holes in the road signs on the other.
Crossing a boarder on the road is romantic, challenging, surprising, a small momenti which makes you feel part of a big adventure.